A Zamboni driver was fired for urinating in a drain and is suing the Red Wings
There are no second chances in hockey, at least if you’re Al Sobotka.
Sobotka, the longtime Detroit Red Wings Zamboni driver who was fired for urinating in a drain and subsequently sued due to age and disability, alleges that senior officials at the Red Wings’ parent company Olympia Entertainment participated in a cover-up scheme by having an executive who did not… He knows something about him fires him, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Weeks before the urination incident, Sobotka, 70, said Vice President Tim Padgett approached him in a Zoom meeting and said: “You’re getting old.”
Although Olympia claimed that Padgett had nothing to do with the firing, the vice president said in his testimony that he advised President Keith Bradford, who made the decision to fire Sobotka, about the Sobotka case.
Bradford never met Sobotka, did not know how long he had been with the Red Wings and never discussed the urination incident with him or the witness who saw him, according to a Nov. 15 court filing.
The senior vice president of human resources also said Sobotka’s prostate problem “was not taken into consideration at any time” and she saw it as an “excuse.”
Sobotka even sent Red Wings president and CEO Christopher Ilitch a final desperate message that fell on deaf ears.
Sobotka wrote: “Chris, I’m sure you heard I was terminated, I don’t think I deserve it. After 50 seasons of hard work, countless hours, vacations, and missing time with family… I hope it’s in your heart to get… another chance.
“I would love to go out on my own and retire. I have so much respect for you and your family… I beg you, this is killing me.”
Ilyich did not respond to Sobotka’s crush.
Sobotka, who was caught by a colleague urinating in a drain between two Zamboni on February 2, 2022, says he suffers from benign prostatic hyperplasia, which makes it difficult to regulate urination.
The 70-year-old, who began a 51-year career with the Red Wings when he was 17, was a fixture at Little Caesars Arena, where he was known to spin an octopus over his head after fans threw it onto the ice.
“They all know I made a mistake,” Sobotka, who still finds it difficult to sleep at night, said in a recent interview.
“It’s in my head, 24/7, you know,” he said. “I have nightmares.”